Writing a screenplay is unique from other forms of writing as in they are written to be seen on the screen, not read in a book. Given this factor, screenplays must be written in a very specific manner so that they don’t read like prose, and so that they will play out correctly in a movie or television format. Screenwriters must think beyond the page and picture how what they are writing will look acted out by actual people.
Things like camera angles, stage direction and scene changes must be taken into consideration. Certain writing techniques are therefore only suitable for screenplays, but screenplay writing can and does benefit from general writing tips. Here are some screenplay writing tips.
Write Your Screenplay on Index cards
Popular screenwriter David Lynch has said that he enjoyed writing his movie ideas on napkins. He also recommends writing your screenplay on a series of index cards. According to Lynch, one feature film is equivalent to seventy 3 by 5 index cards. In this method, you will need seventy ideas for seventy scenes.
Write out each idea for a scene on each index card, and then you will have completed your movie, at least according to Lynch’s idea. Another idea includes writing out the scene’s basic plot and premises on three to five pages; only the sequence of events, not a detailed description. Then, get out your index cards and begin writing the scenes.
Use Screenwriting Software
If using index cards is too archaic for you, then you can try to use more modern screenwriting software. One thing that many writers have trouble with is figuring out how to format their script. There are many different ways to format a script. With software, you can easily input your ideas into a preformatted medium.
That way, you won’t have to worry about manually formatting it, and it will be written correctly. Some of these software eliminates distractions by taking up your entire screen, disabling you from clicking on any other windows, and turning off your internet connection.
Use the Five Why’s
If a particular plot point in your story has got you stuck then you can use the five why’s to figure it out. Write down what you want to happen at a particular point in a story.
Then, begin asking yourself “why”. For example, if one character does an action, ask yourself why he does that action, and what the reason for that action is, and so forth. You will be able to figure out how to get to that particular point in your plot in no time.
Should you find yourself stumped for a story or at any other point in the writing, it might be time to take a walk. Take a notebook with you, or anything else to write about. If any ideas come to mind, write them down. Also, go to other places like parks, libraries, college campuses, and the likes. There will be plenty of sources for ideas and inspiration as long as you look around you.